Bus company owner 'likeable,' hated shortcuts
By Tony LaRussa
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 9:21 p.m.
When Bill Roenigk took over his family's school bus company upon his father's death in 1991, his main concern was for all the people who relied on the business — from his mother to the drivers, mechanics and students who needed to get to school.
But he didn't need on-the-job training to guide a smooth transition.
“Bill grew up working in the business. When he was 12 years old, he'd be out there early in the morning brushing snow off the buses and driving them around the parking lot to get them warmed up for the drivers,” said Monica Roenigk, his wife of 36 years.
William L. Roenigk Jr. of Natrona Heights, president of the W.L. Roenigk Inc. bus company, died of leukemia on Saturday, March 2, 2013 in UPMC Shadyside. He was 57.
“His father entrusted him with a lot of things, and Bill felt it was his duty to do the best he could to keep the family business going,” his wife said. “Bill didn't think there was anything more important than to do something you love, and he really had a passion for what he did.”
Ben Roenigk of Sarver said the company thrived under his cousin's leadership.
“We really began to grow after Bill took over, and a lot of it had to do with his personality. He was such a likeable guy,” said Roenigk. “We went from five school districts and about 100 employees to 26 districts and more than 900 people.”
Monica Roenigk said her husband's success was the result of the way he treated people and his concern for the people who rode on the company's buses.
“He always used to say there are no shortcuts in our business,” she said. “He'd tell the mechanics, when you fix something, fix it right the first time. He earned the respect of his employees because he respected them and wouldn't ask them to do anything he wouldn't do himself.”
Jeff Pschirer, vice president of Bluebird Bus Sales in Richland, said he met Mr. Roenigk in the late 1980s, “and (they) have been pretty much inseparable ever since.”
“Billy had a huge heart — really the most likeable guy in the world,” said Pschirer of Shaler. “He'd do anything for you. And if you met him and didn't walk away thinking what a great guy he is, then you weren't listening to him.”
In addition to his wife, Monica, Mr. Roenigk is survived by his mother, Jeanne Roenigk of Buffalo Township; his daughter, Casey Silverman of Buffalo Township; siblings, Robert, Susan and David Roenigk, all of Natrona Heights; Michael Roenigk, Andrew Roenigk, Nancy Stewart and Barbara Myers, all of Buffalo Township; Patricia Kirk of State College; Walter Furer of Orwigsburg; and Fred and Richard Keville, both of Lodi, Calif.; and one granddaughter.
Family and friends will be received from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in Duster Funeral Home, Tenth Avenue at Corbet Street, in Tarentum. Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday in the funeral home. Interment will be in Greenwood Memorial Park, Lower Burrell.
Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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